Monterey Pass Royalty?

wallis_simpsonI am sometimes asked the question about Wallis Simpson who was born at Monterey Pass. Simpson seems to the name that many locals go by when referring to Bessie Wallis Warfield. Early in life, she actually dropped her first name and went with her middle name Wallis. After doing a quick internet search, I decided to compile some basic facts about this very educated lady that was later in life known as the Duchess of Windsor. It is because of her third marriage, that many older residents her in Blue Ridge Summit remember this celebrity, although, she had ties to the Fascists Party of Italy and was also accused of ties with the NAZI Party. So who was Wallis Simpson?

Wallis_Simpson_-1936Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1896 in the small cottage house located near the Monterey Inn. Her family were prominent citizens of Baltimore, Maryland and visited the area during the summer months. During her youth, she attended Oldfields School, one of the most expensive schools in Maryland. It was said she was very bright and smart. She became close to the Du Pont family through her friend and school mate, Renée du Pont.

In November of 1916, Wallis married U.S. Navy aviator Earl W. Spencer Jr. Her life of traveling and the Great War took a toll on their marriage. She had grown unhappy. It was during this period she met Galeazzo Ciano, Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law and the two had an affair. Although, Edda Mussolini, wife of Ciano denied the affair that her husband had, Wallis made her way back to the United States. After being separated for some time, Wallis divorced her husband in December of 1927. After her divorce, Wallis married Ernest Aldrich Simpson in July of 1928.

After being introduced by a friend and mistress, Wallis met Edward, the Prince of Whales. Soon afterward, she became his mistress, which Prince Edward quickly denied. When Prince Edward became King, Wallis had already begun proceedings for a divorce from her second husband which was granted in October of 1936.

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf HitlerBy December of 1936, King Edward announced that he was stepping down as King. He gave up the throne in order to marry Wallis. Several months later in June of 1937, the couple were married. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor took up residence in France. In 1937, the couple met German Dictator Adolf Hitler. Upon the out break of World War Two, and the German Invasion of France, the couple fled from France. The couple eventually wound up in Bahamas, where her husband became the governor.

After World War Two, her reputation in England had fallen and she was heavily criticized for her luxury shopping habits, and tours she and her husband took during the Second World War. They eventually moved back to France where they lived out the rest of their lives. The Duke of Windsor died in 1972. The Duchess herself eventually suffered from dementia. The Duchess of Windsor died on April 24, 1986 at her home at Bois de Boulogne, Paris, France.

The Monterey Inn and the cottage where Wallis was born, no longer stands. Today, two private homes set upon the site where Wallis was born.


Camp Ritchie: Americans Soldiers Learn About the German Army during the Second World War

A few years ago, I wrote a small piece about Camp Ritchie that was just a brief history during the Second World War and I would like to expand on that with this posting. Recently I came across a few items at the Waynesboro Library about Camp Ritchie during the Second World War in the Pennsylvania Reference Room. The first was a scrapbook based upon the fort’s formal history. The book had no author with the exception of a note indicating that it was produced by the War Department. This yearbook style of reading had several photographs of Camp Ritchie during the Second World War that interested me.

The second was a notebook that contained write ups from local newspapers, and thesis’s written by unknown individuals. After reading them, I soon realized that only individuals that served at Camp Ritchie contributed to or had written this on their own. It had a break down of what it was that the American soldier was learning, from class to class, with regard to his training. The break down was truly an interesting find.

In the early part of 1942, General George Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff took several steps to improving intelligence training for the US Army. Observationalists were sent to England to gain firsthand experience of how Great Britain handled intelligence. Two groups of four officers spent six weeks in England and came back with recommendations on building a Military Intelligence Training program. A curriculum was soon established by the War Department for purposes of Combat Military Intelligence Training. The location of Camp Ritchie to establish this training center was picked for two main reasons, the close proximity to Washington D.C., and the layout of the terrain where several field problems and maneuvers could be simulated.

The curriculum that was established for training purposes dealt with a wide variety of studies that focused on the German, Japanese and Italian armies. The course was divided up between three different phases. The first was general or basic, the second was specialized and finally the field exercises. Additional special courses were also given, and if need be, changes were also implemented.

Once classes began many refugees, such as those who made up the Ritchie Boys, gladly came in and offered their services. This was firsthand knowledge that was being offered, as many of the refugees were familiar with the armed forces of the Axis powers. Classes of 300-500 students were divided into sections of about 40 men. It was again divided for a final ratio of one officer and six enlisted men. New classes started each month that would last upwards to eight weeks.

Captured equipment from the Axis armies were on hand, ranging from uniforms to weapons such as machine guns, artillery, and vehicles, all lined up to teach the student. These were used for combat simulations, identification, and interrogation purposes. Mock up simulations and drills were also held to prepare students for their deployment in Europe or Japan. The demonstration troops were known as the Composite School Unit or CSU.

The courses were broken down to several sections and subsections. The German Army course had four basic sections and they included the following:

Section I: Prisoners of War. Mock simulations in German military uniform of prisoner interrogations were taught to the students. This was done so they knew how to properly interrogate a prisoner and how to handle problems if they occurred in the field.

Section II, No. 1: Organization and Minor Tactics. This section was divided up into ten components. The first was Infantry Point, Combat Patrol, Squad in the Attack and Rifle Platoon in the Attack. This was to aide the students to visualize the German units and how they operated. The end result was that the student would know what the enemy’s capabilities were on the battlefield.

Section II, No. 2: German Strongpoint. Here students would experience how the Germans dug-in for a defensive position. Students would see wire entanglements, riveted emplacements, and crew served weapons and how those tactics were being used by the German Army.

Section II, No. 3: Light Weapons Identification. They learned about ammunition, rate of fire, weight, range, and penetration. They also learned the tactical employment and usage of the K-98 rifle, pistols, and machine guns such as the M-34 and M-42. Some of the other weapons included the mortar and smaller caliber anti-tank guns. Each weapon was manned by complete crews to show students how they were deployed and how the crews worked.

Section II, No. 4: Medium Weapons and Vehicle Demonstrations. Students learned about ammunition, rate of fire, weight, range, and penetration of some of the larger weapons such as the different caliber of howitzers. Students also saw how troops and supplies were transported. Some of the vehicles were half track trucks and motorcycles. Students learned how these vehicles were deployed in combat.

Section II, No. 5: German Mounted Infantry Platoon. Showed the tactics of how mounted infantry was deployed, with emphasis on how reconnaissance worked.

Section II, No. 6: German Machine Gun Platoon. Here, students saw firsthand the organization and deployment of the platoon.

Section II, No. 7: German Anti-tank Platoon. Students learned about deployments and characteristics of weapons and how motorcycle messenger communication systems worked.

Section II, No. 8: German Light Howitzer Platoon. Students learned about tactical deployment, organization and characteristics of weapons.

Section II, No. 9: German Motorcycle Platoon. Taught students tactics and deployments of these two wheel platoons demonstrated by the usage of bicycles. It also showed students how reconnaissance worked.

The next section or Section III focused solely on German Uniform Identification. Here, students learned about the German Army Ranking system, from the private to the officer. He learned what the colors on the German shoulder straps represented with regard to the branch of service. For example white for infantry, yellow for signals, and red for artillery. The students also learned the different models of uniforms and the insignia they represent. This was done to segregate the prisoners. In many American POW camps, the men of the SS were segregated from the regular soldiers in the army. One reason for doing so was to protect the conscript from the harassment of the SS soldier.

The last section, or Section IV focused on the German Battalion Defensive Position. Here, demonstrations were held to show what a front line German Battalion looked like in a defensive position. Everything from platoon, squad, outposts, reserves, and observation posts were demonstrated.

The above strictly represents the training in regards to the German Army. The Japanese sections focused on the basically the same thing as that of the German training with some minor changes, such as the usage of cavalry with a focus on the Rifle-Saber company.

These demonstrations occurred all over Camp Ritchie. It was not unusual to see American soldiers demonstrating marching, and maneuvers, whether it was on land or by boat using the lakes. Each student learned how to operate each weapon as it applied to his specialty. Displays were often used to show different mines, different grenades and projectiles.

One of the pictures shows an old farmhouse located off of the grounds of Camp Ritchie. The military cut one of the exterior walls from the house to open it up while students sat on bleachers outside and observed how interrogations worked. This was done to resemble a house that had been demolished by the ravages of war.

From what these American soldiers were taught, they would have firsthand, working experience of the equipment that the German and Japanese soldiers used. This would have been an extreme advantage on the battlefields of Europe and Asia. From the day of its activation to it’s deactivation, Camp Ritchie had a total of twenty-four eight week courses of instruction, plus an additional fifteen four week European Theater Order of Battle classes, and seven four week Pacific Theater Order of Battle classes. Refresher courses were also given for specialists lasting eight weeks.

Camp Ritchie during World War Two

Working for two Civil War battlefields, I had had several people in the community ask me if I considered writing some articles about Fort Ritchie during World War Two. Since then over the past few years, many people have told me stories about Camp Ritchie during World War Two. These are just a few of the stories as told to me by local citizens. By no standard is this a complete history of Camp Ritchie nor is this Civil War related, but it does deserve to have its place on the blog to a certain degree. This article was one that I wrote for the Emmitsburg Historical Society a few years ago and I hope that you the reader enjoys reading the rich history that South Mountain has to offer.

Situated between Frederick City and Hagerstown, Maryland is South Mountain. Many people think of the Civil War when they hear South Mountain mentioned. Quirauk Mountain is part of South Mountain and holds a secret that is not often known or spoken of. The mountain peak is located in the northeastern portion of Washington County and stands at 2,145 feet above sea level. The Appalachian Trail runs about a half mile west from the summit where the South Mountain Recreation Area and the Mason & Dixon Line meet and it is also close to High Rock. This area can easily be seen from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and Smithsburg, Maryland due to a broadcast tower that is situated on top of the mountain and it is also home to a communication outpost that is owned by the Federal Government and borders the remains of Fort Ritchie.

The Maryland National Guard built Camp Ritchie in 1926 when they purchased 638 acres for the development of a camp. In honor of the governor of Maryland in office at the time, the camp was called Camp Albert C. Ritchie. The Corps of Engineers’ insignia, a life-size version of the Corps’ miniature castle façade, inspired the design of the Fort. With weather conditions similar to that of Germany’s climate, South Mountain was used as part of the American training ground. On June 19th, 1942, Camp Ritchie was taken over by the War Department and used as a Military Training Center. Colonel Charles Y. Banfill became the first commander of the U.S. Military Post of Camp Ritchie. Over 19,600 students passed through Camp Ritchie during the course of World War Two. Soldiers were trained to become order of battle specialists, photo interpreters and general intelligence personnel.

By 1944, the Army spent more than five million dollars to build 165 buildings and Camp Ritchie became home to more than 3,000 men and women. By August, Camp Ritchie began training counter intelligence personnel. Intelligence officers and interpreters were trained there before being sent overseas. Office of Strategic Services agents, interpreters and others would be stationed at Camp Ritchie to gain skills used by spies behind Japanese and German enemy lines. Although the training center at Camp Ritchie offered counter intelligence programs, its main focus was on combat intelligence.

In November of 1944, many Japanese Nisei women, after basic training of the Japanese Military language entered Camp Ritchie. This strategy was adopted because of their understanding of the Japanese language. Once inside Camp Ritchie they were assigned to the Pacific Military Intelligence Research Section. This is where they worked with captured Japanese documents, translating military plans and political and economic information that could damage Japan’s war effort. This section of Camp Ritchie later moved to Washington D.C.

Upon entering Camp Ritchie many students heard foreign languages being spoken in what appeared to be an almost “Hillbilly County”. Some recruits thought that Camp Ritchie was a bit of a circus because of the fact that one could not learn to be fluent in a foreign language in a six-month period. Camp Ritchie also housed German prisoners of war that were captured during the African Campaign. Many of the prisoners were taken to Camp Ritchie to be used as instruments of the American War effort.

Many area residents have stories that were passed down from their grandparents or parents. With Camp Ritchie being the focal point of the community, many worked or lived near by. Many Fountain Dale residents remembered soldiers and convoys of vehicles traveling down the old Waynesboro Road. On several occasions soldiers were sent on a forced march down through Emmitsburg. Howard Kline, as a youngster remembered the tanks the most. He remembered how they tore up the road with the tracks. Military vehicles such as Army Jeeps, motorcycles and men on foot traveled on the Old Waynesboro Road carrying out operations of various sorts, often traveling to Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Once in Emmitsburg, the men from Camp Ritchie were trained to communicate for when they were deployed overseas. The soldiers from Camp Ritchie would travel in convoys to local towns in the area. One such convoy came to Emmitsburg, Maryland. The citizens of Emmitsburg were very excited to see the large masses of men in uniform that were learning how to read and translate maps.

Did you ever hear the stories about the Native Americans at Camp Ritchie? The U.S. Military used Native Americans as Japanese soldiers in their training efforts. One night a group of the Native Americans got drunk in Hagerstown and were too late to catch a bus back to Camp Ritchie. Desperately trying to get back to camp, they stole a Hagerstown City bus and drove it back up the Mountain. They spent the rest of the war confined to the base. While they were confined to the base, the women were not allowed to serve liquor to the Native Americans.

Many neighbors would be startled by seeing German soldiers in their backyard. Farmers in the area thought the German invasion had already begun. Camp Ritchie had American soldiers dressed as German soldiers as part of P.O.W. training. This was done so Americans could learn how to communicate with German soldiers upon their capture. Another reason for American soldiers disguising as the German soldiers was to train the Americans on the types of equipment Germany had as well as to familiarize themselves with the sounds of the German weaponry. The American Government acquired several German uniforms and equipment through the captured German stores and German soldiers, however many of German uniforms did not fit the American soldiers properly. Camp Ritchie even had German Panzer tanks; the German tanks looked real, but were made out of cardboard.

Camp Ritchie had built a mock-up of a German Village. They would have mock battles to train the soldier how to conduct a street battle or practice raiding techniques. They would also learn how to set booby-traps. Throughout the area, in the middle of the night, Camp Ritchie would send American soldiers as well as Americans dressed as German soldiers out to conduct a variety of military exercises. Sometimes the mock battles became quite real and very angry at times. Soldiers would interrogate one another and they would start screaming at each other.

Located near Cascade was a village built and occupied by German immigrants. American soldiers would find their way past this little village trying to communicate with the inhabits. Asking them for directions and how to study their surroundings. The American soldiers were trying to find their way back to Fort Ritchie.

As part of their training, many American Soldiers were required to conduct a 48-hour bushwhack over the summit of South Mountain. They would be confined to the basement of a combat firing range. They were to fight their way through this course only armed with a pistol, one ammunition clip, a knife and a piece of piano wire. If they went through the training course and had three rounds of ammunition left, then they passed the exercise. The last three shots were for Adolph Hitler, Mussolini and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. Some students cheated by taking the Appalachian Trail as a shortcut to their main objective. The training course was closed after V-J Day in 1945. Many Americans referred to Camp Ritchie’s training as the “Mythical Institute of Total Confusion”.

However Camp Ritchie is most remembered by the Ritchie Boys. Several thousand German Jews were forced out of Germany during the beginning of Nazi controlled Germany. Many came to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Army and were trained at Camp Ritchie. Since these men were fluent in the German language, they were trained in the methods of psychological warfare. The role of these soldiers was therefore to study the enemy, and demoralize him in order to achieve an unconditional surrender.

The Ritchie Boys took part in the D-Day operations and once inside German territory, they interrogated POWs gaining as much information as they could in order to help the Allied Forces. After the end of World War Two, the Ritchie Boys had one more task at hand as some of them served as translators during the Nuremberg Trials.

During the Cold War, Camp Ritchie became a Fort under the Federal Government. As part of the military cutbacks President Bill Clinton had Camp Ritchie shut down in 1998.